Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), an estimated 62 million Americans now have access to mental health and substance use disorder benefits through Medicaid.
Most health plans must now cover preventive services, such as
depression screening for adults and behavioral assessments for
children, at no additional cost.
It’s all a result of the growing body of evidence that
addressing behavioral health can improve patient outcomes and
save money, says Tom Steiner, a director at Deloitte Consulting
LLP, which provides strategic and operational advisory services
to managed-care companies and other health-care decision-makers. Part of Steiner’s job is to inform payers across the
health-care system about new trends in the marketplace.
“As more and more money is going toward mental and
behavioral health care, people are further prioritizing it to
figure out whether there’s a better way to provide that care more
effectively and efficiently,” says Steiner.
Last year, in an effort to build awareness of the benefits of
psychological services within the country’s new health-care
system, APA’s director of integrated care, W. Douglas Tynan,
PhD, reached out to Steiner to inform him about the advantages
that integrated health care provides to patients and offered to
work with him to build awareness of integrated care among his
“Deloitte was intrigued that we could actually come up
with something that might benefit their managed-care clients,”
Tynan recalls. “They saw potential in the evidence that when
we focus on helping patients become happier and healthier,
they use fewer hospital services and make fewer trips to the
emergency department,” Tynan says.
In December, Tynan teamed with Steiner and Deloitte
psychologist Penny Brierley-Bowers, EdD, to deliver a webinar
exploring integrated health-care delivery models to members
of the Association of Community Affiliated Health Plans. The
organization comprises 57 health plans in 24 states and serves
primarily Medicaid populations. The team presented a similar
webinar to nearly 150 members of the Medicaid Health Plans of
America, the leading industry association for Medicaid health
Presenters discussed the high cost of unmet behavioral
health needs — estimated at about $70 billion annually — and
explained how patients who have both chronic medical and
behavioral health conditions cost significantly more than those
with only a chronic medical condition.
“This is an emerging field and we’re learning something
new all the time,” Brierley-Bowers says. “Doug had direct access
to the most up-to-date information because APA is a leading
source for best practices in behavioral health care. This is a
valuable partnership for us.”
The organizations hope to present additional webinars over
the coming months. n
Amy Novotney is a journalist in Chicago.
Making the case for
An APA collaboration with Deloitte is building
awareness of patient-centered medical homes.
By Amy Novotney